19 August 2022 11:39:03 IST

Akshaya Chandrasekaran is Sub-Editor, businessline. She covers education and start-ups for fortnightly supplement bloncampus, and writes features on brands and advertising. You can write to her at akshaya.c@thehindu.co.in and find her on Twitter at @akshayaiyerr

Campus hiring slumps to pre-Covid levels

Abhay Chirania (22), an electronics and communications engineering graduate, was not happy with the options he was presented with at college placements. Most of the offers — like software development roles at IT services companies — had nothing to do with his core degree . Dissatisfied, he decided to look for jobs on his own using LinkedIn.

Chirania is one of a number of students of the 2022 batch who have sat out college placements altogether and sought out offers that better match their aspirations off-campus, as the hiring sentiment has been muted. Students recruited last year are yet to be taken on board and hence the companies have not hired in large numbers, BLonCampus has learnt.

After reaching out to hiring managers at several companies of his choice, Chirania landed an interview with Texas Instruments (TI) Bangalore, and subsequently a job at the company. Elated that his efforts have paid off, he says, “TI works in the field of edge AI and electric vehicles which I am interested in. The role aligns better with my skill-sets. The pay package is also far better compared to the other recruiting companies that visited campus. I am glad I found this,” he says.

'Choosy companies'

Chirania was lucky to get the job of his choice. Other students perhaps not. According to S Pasupathi, Chief Operating Officer of recruitment technology and assessment solutions company HirePro, campus hiring has definitely slowed down.

“Last year, during the hiring frenzy, the companies were hungry for talent. This year, it is sort of like eating with your stomach half-full, you will be really selective and choosy about what you want. So, only if there is a need for more talent, will they hire large numbers,” he says.

Much of last year’s frenzy is attributed to remote hiring which gave companies the ability to broadbase talent and the candidates more choices and better bargaining power. Neeraj K Udupa, Placement Head, IIT Madras, says, “The highest-ever full-time offers in the history of IIT Madras were made last year. Our placement process this year is yet to begin, we have to wait and see.”

The IT services industry, which dominates campus placements, hired 1.5x or 2x times more than it usually does. The demand in the market and the anticipation that joining ratios might be poor because of high attrition are the reasons. But now, the hiring numbers have gone back to pre-pandemic levels. Manufacturing companies and investment banks which did not significantly alter the hiring numbers last year continue with the same set-up.

Moreover, the economic uncertainty caused due to the Russia-Ukraine war in Europe — and fears of recession — are leading some companies to slow down as well. “Between November and February of 2022, the recruiters hired at a breakneck speed and large volumes. By March, many of them realised that the pace at which they were hiring was much higher than what their needs would be. To offset the loss, they have had to slow down and re-evaluate,” adds Pasupathi.

Hiring volumes down

This raises the question, is remote hiring here to stay? Large organisations, for both remote and in-office roles, will continue to hire remotely. After having tinkered the process to perfection, organisations have largely realised the benefits of remote hiring. Both the power of leveraging insights from data collected during virtual assessments and the importance of diversifying the talent pool has come to the fore.

For instance, Nitin Barekere, Vice-President –HR of Omega Healthcare, says, “New hires will come to the office for connecting with people and in-person training opportunities. But we will continue with advanced remote hiring as it offers greater flexibility and to reach out to a larger talent pool including job aspirants in tier 3 cities and rural areas. This is a part of our diversity and inclusion strategy of tapping top talent from across the country.”

On the other hand, small-scale companies might prefer to go in person as a brand-building exercise. “Branding is where you need to be present in college. Since the volume of hiring has gone down, the effort to market yourself goes up, so some recruiters feel much more comfortable to go in person and put some effort into marketing themselves to students.” According to Pasupathi, by January-February of 2023, companies’ appetite will improve and hiring might bounce back with far fewer uncertainties in the environment.